Friday, December 27, 2013

Horror from Horwitz

Yesterday, I discussed Ludwig von Mises' view on mathematical economics and how Professor Peter Boettke of the Koch-funded George Mason University distorted that view.

Today, I have become aware of a commentary by Steven Horwitz. Horwitz is a long-time faculty member at the summer seminars of the Institute for Humane Studies and the Foundation for Economic Education, both funded with Koch money. He holds a masters and PhD from George Mason University.

Horwitz considers himself an Austrian, yet, in a blog post at the London School of Economics, he offers, much like Boettke, a jumbled message. He writes:
The argument that the slow recovery was due to a lack of aggregate demand that could be remedied by monetary expansion had at least some plausibility for the first year or two[...]
This is as far from Austrian theory as you can get.  Austrian school economists see central bank monetary expansion as distorting the economy. To be sure, Horwitz does say some things that an Austrian economist could agree with, such as:
the only path to recovery is one in which markets are freed up to reallocate the misallocated resources of the prior boom and put the economy back on a path of sustainable growth.
But his is a mixed message that contains Austrian insights with decidedly non-Austrian views. I am not sure what is up with these guys, but their writings are muddying Austrian theory.
Horwitz, btw, has identified himself as a bleeding-heart libertarian, meaning coercive libertarian (How's that for a contradiction?), and is a regular contributor to the Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog. He also blogs at Boettke's site, Coordination Problem.

Lew Rockwell called it back in back in 2010, when he cheered the name change of Boettke's blog from "The Austrian Economists" to "Coordination Problem." He wrote: Good News From GMU.

I am not sure what these guys are but they are far from consistent Austrian economists.

Mainstream economists have their "salt water" and "fresh water" designations to differentiate different economic views. Perhaps we should follow and come up with an identifier for the Boettke-Horwitz crowd, a distinctive name. I propose the "Mud Austrians," because they sure like to muddy up the water.

(ht Chris Barcelo)


  1. Well, the "Left-libertarians" say they support "freed markets." If that includes freeing the people from the chains of a State-controlled central bank, that would put them closer to the Austrians. I think.

    A truly civilized society is one in which everything is voluntary, including trade and commerce, and money and banking. If anyone wants to opt out of the State's compulsory paper money scheme and State-controlled banking scheme the majority wants to use, then opt out. The freed market will eventually weed out the State's central bank when the freed people wake up to the damage it has caused. I hope. (Is that Austrian?)

    1. I believe left-libertarians' difference with an-caps is more semantics than anything. They think an-caps can be "vulgar" sometimes when defending capitalism because they see capitalism as more of a neo-feudalism than anything else, historically speaking. So they are for "markets, not capitalism". But I think we are all striving for the same thing here: voluntaryism.

    2. I think the difference is quite a bit more than semantics.

      I would say that most left-libertarians don't know what capitalism is (free, voluntary exchange driven by personal savings), but instead think our current fascist system (unfree, sometimes voluntary exchange driven by personal and government debt) is somehow capitalism in action.

      Many left-libertarians I've met still advocate for collective ownership of property (anarcho-syndicalists/communists). I find it interesting that if anarcho-syndicalists had their way, there would be no room for an AnCap society within. However, if the AnCaps got their way, people could still choose to establish communes. If our goal is voluntaryism, that fact should tell us which way is best.

  2. Rothbard used to describe the Horwitz syndrome as "simultaneous left- and right-wing deviationism." I suspect it is relatively harmless. Every strategy for liberty is a shot into the dark. "Let hundreds of flowers blossom," as Mao would say. Peace and good will to all in the coming year.

    1. "I suspect it is relatively harmless."


  3. Is Horowitz meaning that a flush-out wouldn't be desirable, relative to "plausibility" ?
    We do need to keep it clean, but doesn't he simply mean makes sense on Keynesian terms, whereas QE2 didn't (market agreed, was very surprised in August 2010 and had more net impact than QE1).
    Clearly Tarp & QE1 are simple theft from the dollar users to the rich and mistaken--economic fascism. By them failing, the good assets can be salvaged, then managed by the competent. Further this eliminates the excess moral hazard. Wenzel... you really think SH really has and does not expound this ? Is every Koch cash taker necessarily a deliberate diluter? Boettke is on another level, no doubt - - He should / does know better.

  4. George selgin is in with this crowd who muddies the water of Austrian Econ

  5. It's hard to believe that Horwitz was a student in Thomas DiLorenzo's class. He must have been sleeping in those classes.

  6. Just stepped on Horwitz's toes with this one, where I mistook him for a guy who wrote a review of Paul Goodman...tangential to my argument

    Horwitz was just on my blog, calling me insane, and accusing me of intentionally calling him a pedophile supporter. Of course, I'd done nothing of the sort but of course, I apologized and corrected the attribution, but there was no way to get that from the post since the passage wasn't an apology for pedophilia.

    Shows the self-contradiction in the whole humanitarian argument on social issues.

    If being gay/pedophile is just like having blue eyes, why get upset? I mean, nothing wrong with being an apologist for blue eyes, right?

    Meanwhile, one humanitarian BLH-er sock puppets in fascinating ways.
    Wonder if this kind of name-calling (clown, insane) is humanitarian when its done by the (self)righteous ones?

  7. Oh, I now see why Horwitz might have an old gripe. I wrote this:

    "Fact is, Steve Horwitz is upset by the "Jewish banking elite" stuff, which he sees as racist paranoia, so his main gripe (the theoretical arguments are just a pretext) is that Ron Paul and Mises come attached to unwholesome conspiratorial "wing-nuts" who want to talk about who's controlling the banking system and what went down on 9-11.

    He should be honest about it instead of pretending he has a theoretical bone to pick."
    That was in response to his facebook post on which Bob commented a while back...
    Oh this is really turning into the Hatfields and the McCoys